Practice fuels up Petronas for new European R&D headquarters

15 April, 2014

Construction of a new 17,000 square metre European Research & Development Headquarters for Petronas Lubricants, the global lubricants manufacturing and marketing arm of Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas company, has begun with the facility designed by global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan.

The building – located in Santena, just outside Turin, Italy – is part of a major investment into Petronas’ overall research capability and will be home to a community of several hundred scientists, researchers and new product developers. It is expected to play an important role in supporting Petronas’ development and refinement of fuels and lubricants.

Taking its inspiration from both the Alpine landscape and the pattern and layouts of the local fields, Broadway Malyan’s design uses confident lines and draws these influences into the building’s structure and form.

A key challenge in the brief – which Broadway Malyan secured following an international design competition – was to create a space that encouraged greater cooperation and collaboration between Petronas’ scientists and other office staff. Broadway Malyan’s solution was to establish a central hub space which would draw people together and directly encourage greater staff interaction.

David Anderson, Director at Broadway Malyan, said: “The client wanted to use design to help change the culture of the organisation and our experts’ approach does exactly that. The central hub space and the configuration of laboratory and office space leading off it ensure that the building has a real sense of energy and opportunity. By working in close partnership with the client on the project, people will come together as never before and that will directly benefit the important work that will take place here.”

Broadway Malyan was commissioned to assist in brief development for the laboratories, offices and workshops areas, provide concept design and take the project through the planning application stage.

The centre will be used for testing and improving fuels and lubricants ensuring better performance, greater engine and fuel efficiency and improved sustainability. Several of the laboratory spaces have been designed to enable engines to run for long periods of time and under close monitoring with the detailed results to be scrutinised by Petronas and its engine partners.

The building is about collaboration at every level, with Petronas working closely with engine and car manufacturers and the new space set to directly support how the client and its partners work together.

Technically, the building had some complex challenges in terms of the specifications needed to support engines and fuels running under test conditions but, by drawing on its global experience and interpretation of the initial brief, the practice has delivered an ideal solution.

The building is also designed to facilitate visits by the many people expected to view and participate in the overall research and testing processes. The design creates a specific route to help visitors navigate the building while allowing for engineers to work uninterrupted. The main arrival hub also features a museum where examples of Petronas’ significant achievements will be on display.

In a final aspect of the ‘design for collaboration’ approach, the building’s design also positions the staff canteen directly off the main hub so that these spaces support interaction and knowledge share. The Alps can be seen in the distance from both the canteen and the hub.

The main building form is designed to satisfy rigorous LEED certification requirements, to reduce heat gain, improve ventilation and air quality within the building and ensure well-lit office and lab spaces within the state-of-the-art facilities.

Distinguished by our global reach with 16 studios across world centres, unrivalled diversity with 500+ design experts and distinctive client focus with over 75% income from repeat business, Broadway Malyan creates world-class and fully-integrated cities, places and buildings to unlock lasting value and deliver a ‘return on design’.

For more information please contact Chris White, Group Head of PR, by phone +44 (0)7557 161146 or email c.white@broadwaymalyan.com